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Keywords:

  • United States;
  • board of directors;
  • business ethics;
  • directors

This study examines participation of African-Americans on the boards and board committees of the US Fortune 500. Prior work suggests the use of committee assignment to discern active versus figurehead involvement on boards. We use a logistic regression model that controls for director traits, firm characteristics and director resource-dependence roles to compare the odds that a black director will be assigned to key committees to those for a white director. We find that black directors are more (less) likely than whites to sit on audit and public affairs (executive) committees. Black female directors are more likely than both white females and black males to serve on finance committees. Thus there is some evidence that race plays a role in determining assignment to corporate board committees.